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PolyU Library

Conduct a Literature Review

A guide to walk you through the process of doing a literature review

Google vs. Google Scholar vs. OneSearch vs. Library Databases

We use Google every day to look for information. However, not everything you find on Google is freely accessible and suitable for your research.

This is why you need Library's OneSearch and databases, which bring you the research contents subscribed by the Library so you can read them for free.

There can be more than one way to get the information we need, e.g. you can find journal articles from both Google Scholar and library databases. However, search results can vary depending on the coverage of sources and their searching mechanism.

Understanding the difference among these platforms can help you choose where to go when you have a specific research need. 

Here is a quick comparison between Google, Google Scholar, Library's OneSearch, and databases.

  What does it cover When do you need it
Google Searches everything on the internet, both scholarly and non-scholarly.
  • Get background information on a subject and understand the terminology in the field through preliminary search
  • Look for non-scholarly materials
Google Scholar A scholarly version of Google; has the largest pool of scholarly articles. However, it is the least trusted platform because many retrieved articles are not peer-reviewed works.
  • Explore a topic and possible search terms through preliminary search
  • Search for an article when you have its title
Library OneSearch

Library's search engine; covers over 90% of the library collections at item level across disciplines and material types

Gets you full-text documents subscribed by the Library.

  • Need full-text documents that are not available through Google/Google Scholar search
  • Search for books by title or keywords or call no.
  • Look for print resources (print journals, magazines, newspapers)
Library Databases

Contain specialized materials.

Some databases provide subject-specific materials, e.g. IEEE Xplore (electrical & electronics engineering), while some provide a specific type of materials, e.g. WisersOne (news).

Also allow you to search within a specific field (e.g. title, keywords), and refine search results using filters - All to help you find what you need quickly and effectively. 

Library subscribed to hundreds of databases. You can browse by subject or browse by type of resource.

  • Need to do a more in-depth search on a defined topic
  • Look for a specific type of materials


Still not sure which one to use? Watch this video to learn the difference between searching Google and library databases.

Source: University of Houston Libraries